The Lewiston Senior Center was packed Thursday night as the Western New York Land Conservancy showed off its plans for the Stella Niagara Preserve on the Niagara River.
The group took over the property from the Sisters of Saint Francis who have owned the land since 1907, part of a larger school and convent complex. It's open land in an increasingly developed area.
"This is the biggest project that we have undertaken in our 25 year history," explained Conservancy Executive Director Nancy Smith.
"We raised $3.6 million in about two years in order to purchase the property last May from the sisters and open it to the public in July. So, it's our most ambitious project ever."
Smith says development and landscaping will start with the better weather and a lot will be done by late this year.
Landscape architect Darrell Morrison's plan calls for signs of the long Tuscarora Nation residence in the Lewiston area to show in the preserve.
Neighbor Mary Ann Broda says it's important that the quarter mile of frontage along the river be preserved.
"Most of the river has been obstructed, if you drive from Lewiston to Youngstown. In Canada, they don't do that. So, it's nice to have something open and there is a lot of history too," Broada said.
Morrison says there will be a lot of restoration on the land to remove invasive species and walks specially designed to let people with disabilities use them on some of the ups and downs on the 29 acres.